China on Wednesday vowed to equip all hospital in urban communities and rural townships with qualified general practitioners by 2012, in an effort to improve the country's medical care services at grassroots clinics.
At an executive meeting of the State Council presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao, it was decided that China will establish a system of general practitioners, according to an official statement issued after the meeting.
Known as "door-keepers" for health of residents in urban communities and rural townships, general practitioners are medical professionals who treat acute and chronic illnesses and provide preventive care and health education.
Among the country's major efforts to reform its medical care system, it will work to make general practitioners the backbone of the medical professionals team at grassroots medical services, the statement said.
Such a move will help greatly ease public complaints about difficulty of accessing quality and cheap medical services at local clinics, it added.
The statement noted that China faces a shortage of general practitioners and the country's efforts to cultivate and equip such talents in grassroots clinics is still at the initial stage.
In several years after 2012, the country aims to establish a standard mode for the cultivation of general practitioners and a medical service mode under which the patients can be treated first at local medical care services, according to the meeting.
China will work to ensure that for every 10,000 urban or rural residents, there will be two to three qualified general practitioners ready to take care of their health problems.
The qualifications are a five-year bachelor degree program in clinical medicine and then three years of specially prescribed education before becoming a general practitioner, the statement said.
As a measure to make up for the shortage of such professionals, selected medical practitioners in grassroots positions can be transferred to posts of general practitioners after having one to two years of training.
Urban medical professionals will provide services at grassroots clinics for one year before being promoted to be an attending doctor or higher positions, the statement added.